Following the contours of history and the geography of the city, Downie sweeps readers on an insider’s gourmet walking tour of Paris and its environs in A Taste of Paris, revealing the locations of Roman butcher shops, classic Belle Epoque bistros serving diners today and Marie Antoinette’s exquisite vegetable garden that still supplies produce, no longer to the unfortunate queen, but to the legendary Alain Ducasse and his stylish restaurant inside the palace of Versailles. Along the way, readers learn why the rich culinary heritage of France still makes Paris the ultimate arbiter in the world of food.
"The complex political, historical, religious and social factors that shaped some of [France's] . . . most iconic dishes and culinary products are explored in a way that will make you rethink every sprinkling of fleur de sel."
—The New York Times Book Review
Acclaimed upon its hardcover publication as a “culinary treat for Francophiles” (Publishers Weekly), A Bite-Sized History of France is a thoroughly original book that explores the facts and legends of the most popular French foods and wines. Traversing the cuisines of France’s most famous cities as well as its underexplored regions, the book is enriched by the “authors’ friendly accessibility that makes these stories so memorable” (The New York Times Book Review). This innovative social history also explores the impact of war and imperialism, the age-old tension between tradition and innovation, and the enduring use of food to prop up social and political identities.
The origins of the most legendary French foods and wines—from Roquefort and cognac to croissants and Calvados, from absinthe and oysters to Camembert and champagne—also reveal the social and political trends that propelled France’s rise upon the world stage. As told by a Franco-American couple (Stéphane is a cheesemonger, Jeni is an academic) this is an “impressive book that intertwines stories of gastronomy, culture, war, and revolution. . . . It’s a roller coaster ride, and when you’re done you’ll wish you could come back for more” (The Christian Science Monitor).
Giovanni Rebora has crafted an elegant and accessible history filled with fascinating information and illustrations. He discusses the availability of resources, how people kept from starving in the winter, how they farmed, how tastes developed and changed, what the lower classes ate, and what the aristocracy enjoyed.
The book is divided into brief chapters covering the history of bread, soups, stuffed pastas, the use of salt, cheese, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, the arrival of butter, the quest for sugar, new world foods, setting the table, and beverages, including wine and tea. A special appendix, "A Meal with Columbus," includes a mini-anthology of recipes from the countries where he lived: Italy, Portugal, Spain, and England.
Entertaining and enlightening, Culture of the Fork will interest scholars of history and gastronomy—and everyone who eats.
A unique combination of memoir, history, and travelogue, this is author David Downie's irreverent quest to uncover why Paris is the world's most romantic city—and has been for over 150 years.
Abounding in secluded, atmospheric parks, artists' studios, cafes, restaurants and streets little changed since the 1800s, Paris exudes romance. The art and architecture, the cityscape, riverbanks, and the unparalleled quality of daily life are part of the equation.
But the city's allure derives equally from hidden sources: querulous inhabitants, a bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and a rich historical past supplying enigmas, pleasures and challenges. Rarely do visitors suspect the glamor and chic and the carefree atmosphere of the City of Light grew from and still feed off the dark fountainheads of riot, rebellion, mayhem and melancholy—and the subversive literature, art and music of the Romantic Age.
Weaving together his own with the lives and loves of Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Balzac, Nadar and other great Romantics Downie delights in the city's secular romantic pilgrimage sites asking , Why Paris, not Venice or Rome—the tap root of "romance"—or Berlin, Vienna and London—where the earliest Romantics built castles-in-the-air and sang odes to nightingales? Read A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light and find out.